Author Topic: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?  (Read 7378 times)

Offline Tiarella

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #90 on: June 29, 2013, 05:19:49 AM »
I use 7 different Ranco digital controllers on my cave, milk coolers, etc. I wouldn't use anything else. Flawless, reliable operation. Buy the pre-wired version. The few extra bucks is well worth it.

Ranco Controller


Thank you, Sailor!!!!  I appreciate you suggesting a model number.  It gets confusing when there are too many options.   :)


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Offline John@PC

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #91 on: June 29, 2013, 08:58:24 AM »
I use 7 different Ranco digital controllers on my cave, milk coolers, etc. I wouldn't use anything else. Flawless, reliable operation. Buy the pre-wired version. The few extra bucks is well worth it.

Ranco Controller


I would second Sailor's suggestion even though I don't own one.  I use a Johnson Controls non-digital.  It does the job but I should have gotten digital.  For the extra $20 the temperature control is much better and you have a flexible sensor cord instead of that stupid copper capallary-tubing thing to deal with.  I actually did order the Johnson Digital from another vendor and it didn't work and sent it back.  The ETC/Ranco does look like a good value, but DO get the prewired!  The model Sailor suggested is a single stage, which means it has one switch available that can be used for heating OR cooling.  They do have a pre-wired two stage controller that can do both heating and cooling simultaneously.  Most of us would not need this, but if your fridge/cave is somewhere where the ambient temperature drops below 50 deg. F for very long (say on a porch) you can plug a low wattage light into the "heating" side to prevent over-cooling.

Offline Digdagdug

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #92 on: October 14, 2013, 11:24:00 PM »
This cave was to be a root cellar so I left the floor raw with a layer of pea gravel. It has an intake and outflow to the outdoors. Despite the raw floor, I need the humidifier.
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #93 on: October 15, 2013, 06:31:14 AM »
Oh, that is very nice!!!!!  I would like one like that too......and a root cellar also.   :D

I might use different shelves in case I want to disinfect since I do a lot of natural rind cheeses and those can get pretty wild at times.......  I do think I'd put raw wood on top of the shelves too......and remove it to sunshine if I needed to clean it well.
Thanks so much for sharing your aging space!!!!

Offline Digdagdug

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #94 on: October 15, 2013, 09:35:28 AM »
Yeah..I cheaped out on the shelves and will now have to replace them with something like what you described. The pine shelving is already growing a dusty blue mould of its' own.
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #95 on: October 20, 2013, 07:44:19 PM »
I was asked to share pics of my caves...so here are my modest cheese accommodations.

I had a white dormer fridge way back, loaned to family members, but which was recovered and found new life in the cheesemaking world.
I added a laptop cooler that helps stir the air inside the white cave. After four years continuous service, it's still running just fine.

I added the black cave in February 2011. The white one is controlled by an analog Johnson controller. The black one was able to use a newer technology digital Ranco temperature controller. Much nicer. ;)

Not a lot going on in either cave presently. A half dozen wheels and some baby Goudas in the black cave and Saint Paulin #3 plus some baby Goudas in the white cave.

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #96 on: October 20, 2013, 08:13:08 PM »
I now have Boofer cave envy...  :o
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Offline scasnerkay

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #97 on: October 20, 2013, 08:19:15 PM »
Boofer, is your humidity coming just from the cheese in the cave, or is there extra water or a humidifier in use?. Do you have any trouble with condensation from the freezer part of the frig? What brand is that black one? Does it have a fan built in already?
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #98 on: October 21, 2013, 08:33:57 AM »
Boofer, is your humidity coming just from the cheese in the cave, or is there extra water or a humidifier in use?. Do you have any trouble with condensation from the freezer part of the frig? What brand is that black one? Does it have a fan built in already?
  • is your humidity coming just from the cheese in the cave, or is there extra water or a humidifier in use?. From the cheese and from the environs.
  • Do you have any trouble with condensation from the freezer part of the frig? Just that it collects and has to be disposed of.
  • What brand is that black one? I'm at work right now and can't recall. Perhaps Sanyo.
  • Does it have a fan built in already? No. That's on my agenda.
If I had it to do again, I'd stay away from the refrigerator/freezer units. If you're going in that direction, try to find a refrigerator only. The freezer takes up space that could be used for cheeses, condenses water from the air that must be dealt with, and otherwise serves no practical use. These are around 4.4 cu. ft.

You can see some minicaves (ripening boxes) in the caves. They work extremely well to shield the cheeses within from neighboring inquisitive cultures, collect weeping whey, and control humidity near the cheeses.

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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #99 on: October 21, 2013, 09:46:00 AM »

If I had it to do again, I'd stay away from the refrigerator/freezer units. If you're going in that direction, try to find a refrigerator only. The freezer takes up space that could be used for cheeses, condenses water from the air that must be dealt with, and otherwise serves no practical use. These are around 4.4 cu. ft.

-Boofer-

Boofer,  why not a freezer only unit?  Hooked into a temp controller of course.  I've been wishing someone had compiled a list of models/makes or a way to be sure to get one that doesn't use the shelves as condensing coils.  So far, squinting at small photos on Craig's List I look for shelves that appear moveable, avoid ones that are clearly tubing and then dither and do nothing.  Then I look at sales circulars at appliance places.....squint some more and then dither again as sort of the chorus of a long freezer searching song.  Helpful hints from knowledgeable folks are desired because they might end the song which, although melodic, is not very satisfying.


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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #100 on: October 21, 2013, 01:28:08 PM »
Buying a cheese cave is my next step. I've been wondering why some people seem to be staying away from wine coolers? Is there a reason or is it just preference?
- Eric

Offline Tiarella

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #101 on: October 21, 2013, 01:35:46 PM »
Buying a cheese cave is my next step. I've been wondering why some people seem to be staying away from wine coolers? Is there a reason or is it just preference?

I have a wine cooler but it fills up too fast!   ???  At least, it does if you make cheese often and like to age them out.  Some like 2 wine coolers so you can do blue cheeses in one without as much worry with cross-contamination.  Plus, the wine coolers come with those foolish wavy wire shelves and they waste space that could be occupied by cheese.  I haven't yet figure out a good replacement flat wire shelf system that can be disinfected easily. 

Offline Boofer

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #102 on: October 22, 2013, 08:14:47 AM »
I've been wondering why some people seem to be staying away from wine coolers? Is there a reason or is it just preference?
I used to be into wine coolers, but that was back in the day. Bartles & James were icons of that industry. ;)

Boofer,  why not a freezer only unit?  Hooked into a temp controller of course.  I've been wishing someone had compiled a list of models/makes or a way to be sure to get one that doesn't use the shelves as condensing coils.  So far, squinting at small photos on Craig's List I look for shelves that appear moveable, avoid ones that are clearly tubing and then dither and do nothing.  Then I look at sales circulars at appliance places.....squint some more and then dither again as sort of the chorus of a long freezer searching song.  Helpful hints from knowledgeable folks are desired because they might end the song which, although melodic, is not very satisfying.
OMG...this is sooo complicated!! I think I'm going crazy!

No, actually, I was quite moved by that passage. 8)

I have used a controller on my chest freezer as a beer lagering system. So, I don't see a problem there.

-Boofer-
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 08:02:12 AM by Boofer »
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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #103 on: October 22, 2013, 09:45:10 AM »
I have a small chest freezer hooked up to a digital Johnson Controller and it's an inefficient way to age cheese in my experience.  I haven't built shelves but there are two baskets that come with it.  Plastic grid covered with cheese matting cover the bottom.  With this I am aging 8 whole cheeses.  Whoopee!!!!!   ::). AND, the humidity is out of control....way too high unless I daily wipe down the condensation that appears on a ten inch swathe along the upper wall region of it.  This is with a fan running in it.   :o. I have to reach into the bottom of the freezer to handlel the cheeses and I'm glad I'm tall but it's still not exactly the best set up although I am considering a stretch and exercise video all based on cheese chores.  Think it will be a hit?   ;).

I'm not using mini-cave boxes because of the condensation issue in those......and needing to wipe out each one daily.  They also use up more space which makes them less efficient.  An upright freezer looks like the best thing Santa could give me but I don't think I have that kind of Santa in my life........sigh.

Offline Boofer

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Re: Will you share photos of your caves? and Mini-cave techniques?
« Reply #104 on: October 23, 2013, 08:07:44 AM »
I have to reach into the bottom of the freezer to handlel the cheeses and I'm glad I'm tall but it's still not exactly the best set up although I am considering a stretch and exercise video all based on cheese chores.  Think it will be a hit?   ;).
I'm not going to be wearing spandex to make my cheeses! ::)

Agreed, I wouldn't be using my chest freezer for that very reason. I believe member Al has a standup freezer for his cave. As I recall, it had a nice setup of shelves.

-Boofer-
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